The Royal Jewellers S01 ep18 : David Webb Jewellery [New York]
Interview with Stan Silverstein
NEW YORK - Stan Silverstein - David Webb - US Jewelleryinstitution - creator ofbig - bold jewellery pieces.
Webb's designs were bold, and it was never understated. It was never subtle it was designed to make a statement. It wasn't your traditional, take a stone, put 4 prongs around it and put it in a ring. It was really more wearable art. Every piece had something to say. We were never accused of being stone dealers we were jewellers. I always like to say that the price was greater than the some of the parts, because we always had so much other stuff in each piece, whether it was labour, attention to detail and it was just the way it was put together. It wasn't just pieces of stones and metal.
David Webb as a person was one of my great teachers, friend, my mother's
partner and he was a trailblazer in terms of wearable jewellery wearable art.
He started working in his uncle's silver shop in Ashville North Carolina in the
40's and he came up to New York. Towards the late 40s he was working as a
jeweller repairman down in Greenwich Village and he and my mother formed
this business in 1948. He was very young, unknown but with great, great vision
and talent and my mother was an accountant.
KM – How would you characterise what made his jewellery different?
The boldness of it, you know, his designs were bold, and it was never
understated. It was never subtle it was designed to make a statement. It
wasn't your traditional, take a stone, put 4 prongs around it and put it in a ring.
It was really more wearable art. Every piece had something to say. You know
we were never accused of being stone dealers we were jewellers. I always like
to say that the price was greater than some of the parts, because we had so
much other stuff in each piece, whether it was labour, attention to detail and
the way it was put together. It wasn't just pieces of stones and metal.
KM – Was he inspired particularly by sorts of movement?
Ancient Egyptians, the ancient Greeks, ancient Indian jewellery, you know
there is a whole spectrum of material you could feed off. I remember back in
the early 80's when the King Tut exhibit came to New York there were a lot of
similarities in certain styles that we used and that they used. I know that he
studied them, the Etruscan eras, he studied the Japanese the Chinese. Later
on the influences from early Cartier, Art Deco, there is a little… you pick up a
little bit of everything. You pick up something you like and you expand upon it
and create your own thing.
One thing we do like and one thing we create, and that is our independence
and our ability to make what we want, when we want it, sell it the way we want
it and be self-contained. We manufacture every piece we make.
KM – Where do you manufacture?
KM – Oh really so this is really your workshop?
Yeah we control it. If we don't like a piece or if we think a piece needs
changing while we are making it we can do that.
KM – Why are you doing this?
Well, I actually as crazy as it seems, enjoy it. I started working here, I was ten
years old and I have done virtually every single thing in this business that you
can do from sweeping the floors and answering the phones, to actually making
jewellery. I was the photographer for years, I have done everything here and I
KM – What has happened since David's died, who has taken over creation?
Oh even when David was alive, we always had staff designers who were
trained by him or worked with them for many, many years and one of those
people are still here.
KM – So I gather there is a lot of things still in the cupboard that have yet to be
Oh sure, there are plenty of things to create and having them work here on the
premises means we can create in various different ways. We don't have to just
work from a drawing. I can take a stone and a piece of clay and create a piece
around it and then tell my men, here is what I want it to look like.
Wearing our jewellery is not a matter of size of the woman or it’s more the
confidence of the woman. We are not dealing with the type of woman who
needs a 15 carat diamond to make her feels secure, we are dealing with a
woman who is secure with herself to begin with and is willing to wear a piece of
jewellery that makes her statement.
People have always said I look like Donald Sutherland and I sat next to Keifer
Sutherland in the theatre one night and I asked him if I looked like his father
and he said, ' fuck no'.
KM – Have you had the pleasure of looking after royalty yourself.
I mean if you consider Jackie Kennedy American Royalty, yes, I've worked
with her. I've worked with the Royal Family of Kuwait. We've worked with the
Royal Family of Thailand in the past and some of the royalty of Hollywood. It is
all on your definition of Royalty.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: David Webb Jewellery